Korey Burns, Aldo Ornelas and Shelby Locklin

Left to right: Korey Burns, Aldo Ornelas and Shelby Locklin

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Work is well underway to make this year’s 12x12 scholarship fundraiser for the Friends of the Visual Arts at Stephen F. Austin State University another success.

The silent auction features 12-by-12-inch pieces of art created by approximately 70 artists from Nacogdoches, Lufkin and other areas of East Texas. Anyone may silently bid on the unique one-of-a-kind pieces, according to Crystal Hicks, event committee chairwoman.

“This event has become a staple of the summer,” says Hicks. “It’s well-attended, and the bidding is always energetic and competitive.”

Silent bidding ($250 minimum) begins Thursday, June 28, at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House and will continue up to the day of the art party, which is planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at the art center.

The purpose of 12x12 is to raise funds for the FVA scholarships and grants that that are awarded to SFA art students. Between $12,000 and $15,000 is awarded annually in scholarships to deserving students in the School of Art.

The awards help students defray the costs of special projects for art classes or M.B.A./B.A. exhibitions. Some recipients have attended conferences or gone on school trips that will help with their professional development. This has included Maymester trips for art students to go to Big Bend for a special photography project. The organization also awards scholarships for elementary school students to attend the SFA Art Academy.

“It’s so rewarding to visit with the students who have received a scholarship,” says Hicks. “And it’s even better to hear from them after they’ve gone on to continue making art after they graduate. We invite former students to attend and participate, as well.”

The annual 12x12 art auction and party is a summer favorite of many East Texans, but no one appreciates the effort that goes into the planning and the donated art more than the students who benefit from the work of generous volunteers and artists.

Among those benefiting from FVA scholarship is Aldo Ornelas, a graduate student in ceramics from Mexico. For Ornelas, who is himself contributing a piece for the 12x12 auction, an FVA scholarship allowed him to make his first tuition payment as an art student at SFA. Ornelas said he greatly appreciates his art professors because they give him “the freedom to explore and create, and it’s the perfect environment to explore.”

Receiving an FVA scholarship helped Korey Burns of Columbia, Louisiana, purchase the kinds of materials to make her work successful. Burns recently graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree.

“It's hard as a student to be able to pay for supplies to create art,” Burns said. “Being a metalsmith, my materials tend to cost more than others. By receiving a scholarship, I am able to purchase the materials I need to make my work successful. Without scholarships, I do not think it would be possible to produce the work that I enjoy creating.”

Burns was recently notified that she was accepted for a fulltime metal art residency at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

“There, I hope to continue learning and growing as an artist,” Burns said. “I know the change in area will be a huge impact on my art. Professionally, I will be introduced to new opportunities for showing my work at galleries and consignment shops for my jewelry line, and I will have new teaching possibilities.”

South Lake junior sculpture student Shelby Locklin is a second-year scholarship recipient who plans to be a working artist. She enjoys teaching and does private lessons. She said that it means a lot for a group of “complete strangers” to reach out and show their support and care for her and her goals as an artist.

"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them," she says, describing SFA’s art department as  "a small program, but with a lot of ambition.”

“The professors care about their students, and it's a good working environment,” she said. “I love being with other creative people."

“We rely on the generosity of the artistic community to provide the pieces for the auction,” Hicks said. “And, of course, the generosity of art lovers in the area is paramount. We're fortunate that both artists and art appreciators alike continue to make this a successful event.”

The Cole Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St. For more information about 12x12 or to become a sponsor, call The Cole Art Center at (936) 468-6557.